This month’s podcast is an interview with Dan & Scott Phillips who burst onto the Cleveland music scene in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s as one half of Rotary Ten. Both brothers are still making music today. Earlier this month, Dan who is based in Cincinnati by way of Chicago, released a new, self-titled album as Zapruder Point + The Brightness. This past Friday, Scott who has lived in Raleigh, North Carolina since the 2000’s, released a five-song EP titled Orchard as The Monologue Bombs. We talk about the brothers’ Northeast Ohio roots, the unique sound of Rotary Ten, their evolution as The Boy Wonder Jinx after their move to Raleigh, and their subsequent solo works.
Set List “Winona” – Rotary Ten “Never No Kidding” – Rotary Ten “Earmarks (Live)” – Rotary Ten “Doug Hopkins” – The Boy Wonder Jinx “99 Cent Shirt” – The Boy Wonder Jinx “Sinker” – The Boy Wonder Jinx “Jay” – Zapruder Point “This Side of the Bridge” – Goner “Spirit of 91” – Zapruder Point “Whatever Day It Is” – Goner “Terrible Things” – Zapruder Point “The Winter Pagent” – Goner “Lisa Pruett Will Have Her Revenge on Coventry” – Zapruder Point “Dickinson Ave (Song of 27)” – Goner “Stars + Specks” – Zapruder Point “The Mathematics” – Gnoer “Taps” – Zapruder Point “The Nightingale Routine” – The Monologue Bombs “Unnamed Stars” – Zapruder Point “Best Mistakes” – The Monologue Bombs
Sometimes I have to pinch myself when it comes to these interviews. I mean, I ask my self how in the hell I managed to set these things up but when one of the most prolific and talented Cleveland songwriters sends you a Facebook message, you take the opening and ask for an interview opportunity. Scott Hanson started on the Cleveland music scene in the early 1980’s with Boy Wonder which featured future Damn Yankees and Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, Solon, Ohio native Michael Cartelone. Boy Wonder played numerous gigs and released one self-titled EP in 1982.
When Boy Wonder fizzled out, Hanson, along with Boy Wonder guitarist Tim Kirker, and bassist Greg Thomas added drummer Ron Musarra and formed the synth pop band, Slam Bamboo in the mid 1980’s, Slam Bamboo released their first single, “House on Fire” b/w “Black Book” in 1986. The single was produced by Danny Powers and Kevin Raleigh from the Michael Stanley Band. Sometime after the release of the single, Trent Reznor joined Slam Bamboo on keyboards and played with the band for almost a year. He appeared with the band when Slam Bamboo played on WKYC’s AM Cleveland hosted by Scott Newell. Reznor also appeared on Slam Bamboo’s second single, “Cry Like A Baby” b/w “Cry Like A Baby” which was produced by the band with Sean Bevan and Bruce Sommers. Slam Bamboo played a number of high profile gigs including as the opener for INXS at the Variety Theatre.
After the end of Slam Bamboo, Hanson eschewed the traditional band approach. Instead, he worked on writing and recording songs with a select group of studio musicians releasing his songs as Hanson: The Movie including “I Want You To Know” on the 1993 WMMS compilation Northcoast Buzzard Tracks, Volume 2. Scott’s next project in the mid-1990’s was Son of Slam, a four piece, grunge inspired band which released their only self-titled album in 1996. Son of Slam received some airplay with “Rollercoaster Ride” and toured the United States.
Scott Hanson continues to write and record for himself as well as writing for others like singer Nate Jones. His music receives regular airplay on John Gorman’s oWOW internet radio and of course, on Listen Project Radio. Hanson also owns and operates Scotti’s Italian Eatery on E 185th Street in Cleveland. Enjoy this retrospective of his long and successful career.
Set List “Dangerous Radius” – Boy Wonder “Through Someone Else’s Eyes – Boy Wonder “When The Night Falls” – Boy Wonder “House On Fire” – Slam Bamboo “Give In To Love” – Slam Bamboo “Cry Like A Baby” – Slam Bamboo “Give Into Love” – Slam Bamboo “I Want You To Know” – Hanson: The Movie “Hands of Time” – Hanson: The Movie “Toss and Turn” – Son of Slam “Rollercoaster Ride” – Son of Slam “Down In The Dirt” – Son of Slam “It’s A Crime” – Scott Hanson “Johan’s Song” – Scott Hanson “Take Me Over” – Scott Hanson “Kid In A Candy Store” – Scott Hanson with Carlos Jones “Terrified” – Scott Hanson with Nate Jones “All To Myself” – Nate Jones (written by Scott Hanson) “Enemy” – Scott Hanson
For more Scott Hanson music. check out his Soundcloud page.
It’s no secret that I am a disciple of that grand religion called power pop. Much like the diversity in Christianity, power pop’s specific dogma is different for different people and many a fist fight has occurred over it’s definition. For me, I need only to point to the sonic offerings of Messrs Tom Dannery and Kurt Maracz when explaining exactly what power pop is to me. For over the 30 years, these two boys from Hinckley, Ohio along with several other musicians have made plentiful offerings to the gods of power pop, first in the late 80’s/early 90’s as Tommy Gun & The Crimes then as the Medicine Men/Medicine Show in the 90’s and today as Skydragster. Tom and Kurt recently surprised the world with a free super deluxe re-release of their 1994 Medicine Show album, Welcome To The Show which enhances what was already a fine example of NE Ohio power pop.
Medicine Show began in the early 1990’s, first with former Gypsy Moths, drummer Leo Walsh and guitarist/vocalist Bill Stone joining Dannery and Maracz. The short-lived band, dubbed the Airdales, released one song, “Caught In A Dream” on the 1991 Jim Clevo Presentations compilation Clearing the Air. Walsh left to form the Cowslingers and Walk-Ins drummer Rich Masarik signed on. Renamed the Medicine Men, this lineup recorded a six song cassette only EP titled Grandma’s Medicine at the Reel Thing in 1992. Tracks from the EP also appeared on the first two Cleveland Music Group compilations released in Fall 1991 and Spring 1992 respectively. The band played live shows with Masarik before he bowed out to concentrate on his live sound production company, Vertical Sound which he founded in 1990 and is still operating today. He was replaced by former Max Crucial & The Krushers drummer/vocalist, Bill “Juice” Adkins. Soon after, Bill Stone moved on to form another legendary Cleveland power pop band, Paranoid Lovesick and the three remaining members hunkered down to record a full-length album.
Engineered by Tom Dannery and self-produced by the band (once again at the Reel Thing) the resulting album, 1994’s Welcome To The Show (released after a third band name change, this time to Medicine Show) fits nicely with other power pop releases of that era from artists and bands such as Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush, Red Cross and the Posies but louder. Much louder. In the realms of 1970’s the Who loud. The albums guitars are loud and layered. The rhythm section is loud and tight. The vocal harmonies are loud and heavenly (all three members share the vocal load). Twenty-six years after it’s release, the album stands the test of time and is still an amazing listen.
In order to achieve the layered sound of the album, the band added guitarist/vocalist Todd “Noize” Voss to the lineup and the Medicine Show hit stages across NE Ohio to support Welcome To The Show. Surprisingly, you can find a number of live videos of both the Medicine Men version and the Medicine Show version on You Tube. The band’s final recorded appearance was “Lookin'” a track from Welcome To The Show that was included on the 1996 compilation It Was Made In Northeast Ohio sponsored by Best Buy and Scene magazine.
By the end of the 90’s, the Medicine Show’s time had passed. Kurt Maracz joined Bill Stone in Paranoid Lovesick until that band ground a halt in 2003 with the sudden death of their lead guitarist, Rick McBrien. However, you can’t keep these boys from making music and sometime in the 2000’s, loud yet pleasant power pop was heard emanating from an undisclosed location in County Medina and suspicious looking characters matching the descriptions of Dannery, Maracz and Stone joined by a what appeared to be an escaped convict who resembled former Snyders of Berlin drummer, Pat Kircher were seen at a photo shoot on a backcountry road carrying guitars and a large sofa. Although everything old was new again, once again a new name was in order and this new/old version of the band christened themselves as Skydragster. Fifteen years of wood shedding in the basement of the Skydragster Ranch plus occasional live appearances playing Medicine Men/Show classics, power pop covers and new tunes led to the inevitable- a new album, Skydragster and the Hit Songwriting Machine released in 2019. That album is their classic power pop but with the mellowness of the 100 proof Wild Turkey the boys favor.
Now, go download the free, two disc Super Deluxe version of Welcome To The Show, expanded from 14 to 25 songs for your listening pleasure. While you’re grabbing your freebie, spend the cash and grab a copy of Skydragster and the Hit Songwriting Machine, put in on in the car, and drive around with your windows down playing it loud. And tune into Listen Project Radio to catch music from every version of the band.
Like many NE Ohio bands, it started with an ad in the Scene. William Russell Jones AKA Billy Russell was a songwriter/guitarist/vocalist in need of a band. Having suffered through the breakup of his marriage, Russell focused his energy into demoing his songs utilizing the home recording technology of the day – a four track Tascam cassette recorder, a Korg drum machine, a Casio keyboard along with his Peavy guitar and bass.
In the 1980’s, well-before the advent of the Internet, there were only two ways to find musicians – word of mouth or an ad in the back of Scene magazine, the weekly “go to” publication that was the source for entertainment news in NE Ohio. Russell placed his ad and shortly thereafter received a phone call from drummer/vocalist Bill “Juice” Adkins AKA “Juicer.” According to Russell, Juice’s band had just lost both of their guitar players and more importantly, needed a warm place to practice. Over the telephone, Russell played his demo version of a song titled “Without You” for Juice. Within minutes, Juice (who, unbeknownst to Russell, lived close by) and his bassist, Brad Becker were on Russell’s doorstep at the intersection of Ford Road and Lucas Court in Elyria to listen to more of Russell’s demo. Adkins and Becker moved their equipment to Russell’s house and the trio began bringing Russell’s demos to life. They quickly realized the band needed a lead guitarist and brought Eddie “Fast Eddie” Stambaugh on board who Russell says, “is the best lead guitarist I’ve ever met in my entire life.” About joining the band, Eddie Stambaugh says:
“I came about from an ad in Scene Magazine that was hanging in Doman’s Music in Elyria. I told Drew Doman that I was going to call and by the time I got home the phone rang. It was Juice on the phone with an invite to band practice at Russell’s house. They were an alternative/ punk looking bunch and I showed up in Loverboy-looking red jeans a torn tank top & headband just in time to see Russell popping an Alka Seltzer with a beer chaser for a foaming effect – a for sure eye opener…”
Once Stambaugh was on board, the new band decided to keep the name of Adkins and Becker’s band as their own and thus the new Max Crucial & the Krushers was born. The band was on a strict timeline after Stambaugh joined. They had about a month to work up their set list as the band had signed up to play a battle of the bands at the Phantasy Nite Club in Lakewood. According to Russell:
“The band practiced every night in my living room and after practice was over, Eddie and I would stay after and work on leads and guitar parts every night. Interesting fact, in the early days the band use to stop rehearsing to take a break and watch GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, That was back in 1986. Even with our inexperience, we ended up taking second place in that battle of the bands. I think we lost to In Fear of Roses.”
Brad Becker did not stay long in the new version of Max Crucial & the Krushers and he was replaced by bassist Scott “Scoots” Ritter (fresh off a stint with The French Lenards) who Russell says was incredibly professional and brought the band up another level. The band developed a solid power pop sound with modern guitar leads from Stambaugh. All band members contributed lead and backing vocals and MC & TK were a powerful live band. I have a board recording from a 1988 show at the Phantasy Nite Club and the band’s energy which fed off of the appreciative crowd is more than apparent. While the band gigged all over NE Ohio, Russell says their “home” venue was the Train Station in Elyria:
I think the rest of the members of the band would agree, our favorite place to gig, the place we called home, was the Train Station in Elyria Ohio. When we played there we were in front of our friends and girlfriends. The place would pack every time we played there. It was as if the name of the band was ‘Free Beer.’
Unfortunately, Max Crucial & the Krushers did not release much recorded material. The band self-released one vinyl single, “She Don’t Need Me”/”Without You” in 1988. “Without You” also appeared on the second Jim Clevo compilation CD, 1988’s Join Rivers: Can We Listen? as well as placing “Color of Your Eyes” on From the Eerie Shores, the CD compilation jointly released by Jim Clevo and Synthetic Records, also is 1988. They made one final appearance, posting “Turnin’ Brown” on Jim Clevo’s 1990 CD compilation The Killer Blow. All of these songs were recorded at On Sound Studio in Lakewood, Ohio.
As happens frequently in rock and roll, internal tensions led to Russell’s departure as the 1990’s dawned. The band soldiered on as a three piece and attempted to complete their first album using additional songs mostly written by Billy Russell and also recorded at On Sound Studios but these recordings never made it to wax. Max Crucial & The Krushers scattered to the winds. Eddie Stambaugh still lives in Lorain County and still plays guitar mostly with his church’s praise band. He’s the proud father of singer/songwriter Austin Stambaugh who lives near Nashville and just released his new album Where She Will Go which is available from Bandcamp. Juicer Adkins replaced drummer Rich Masarik in the Medicine Men when that band changed its name to Medicine Show. He played on the band’s one and only release, Welcome to the Show, which you can download for free, also from Bandcamp. Scott “Scooter” Ritter disappeared from the music scene for a number of years but, according to Eddie Stambaugh, “has been in a handful of projects over the past six or seven years.”
Although the demise of Max Crucial & the Krushers was tough for Billy Russell, he’s taken it in stride over the past three decades since he left the band:
When I (first) heard Juice play the drums and Brad play the bass. I thought about that song by Bachman Turner Overdrive, “Taking Care of Business,” and the line chances are you’ll go far. If you get in with the right bunch of fellows. To me, the end of the Krushers was worse than any relationship I had ever ended before then and since then. I continued to write music for a while, but never tried to form another band. I just never thought anything else would ever compare. I, or we, gave it our best shot and it just wasn’t enough.
One of the pure joys I have as the chief archivist of the Listen Project is discovering music from NE Ohio’s past, especially from the mid-1990’s forward which was during the time I was unplugged from the local music scene. Frequently, after hearing something old that is new to me, I ask myself this simple question: “Why isn’t this band well-known?” NE Ohio has and continues to remain fertile ground for great music and yet, a number of artists and bands who, IMHO, had the songs to make it to the national stage, never even received an invitation to “the Show” (a baseball euphemism for getting called up to a Major League club and in our example, a deal with a major record label).
I’ve written about Michael Purkhiser previously. Back in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, he was part of the power pop trio, The Action. Powered mostly by his smart and crisp songwriting, The Action developed a huge following in Akron and Kent and were known for their incredible live shows and you can find a few videos of the band playing live at the Akron Sound Museum YouTube channel. The Action released three singles in a five year period with the intention of releasing a four song EP, but, as is common in rock and roll, the band dissolved leaving a lot of potential on the floor.
Flash forward a decade or so later. Michael Purkhiser is the sound engineer for the Beatles tribute band 1964 and playing in The Walking Clampetts, the successor band to Kent 1980’s rockabilly tour-de-force, Johnny Clampett and the Walkers. He’s still writing – prolifically – and the songs blend the rockabilly covers played by the Walking Clampetts with his power pop roots from the Action. Enlisting former one time member of Johnny Clampett and the Walkers, former Terrible Parade guitarist and NE Ohio’s favorite Rock and Roll Mercenary, Marky Ray (just off the road as tour manager for The Toadies), drummer John Koury (The Infidels) and bassist/keyboardist Dave “Tate” Stephenson (Kal & The Bad Dudes) in 1997, 3D is formed and the band headed into 216 Studios in Cuyahoga Falls. With Stephenson, a talented engineer, behind the mixing board, 3D spent the next three years putting Purkhiser’s songs to tape.
Over the next three years, 3D recorded approximately 30 songs in the studio and made several live appearances. Although the intention was to release several albums since they had plenty of great material, the only official release is the 1998 five song EP titled Universal Conquest and it serves smartly as the band’s”what if” as all five songs are tight and well-produced, perfectly ready for “the Show.” About the band, Marky Ray, in an April 2015 on-line interview with Tim Quine for the Rubber City Review, said this:
“The stuff we did with 3D was awesome, but like most bands from this area, we were probably ahead of our time. Perhaps a little too this or that, I don’t know. Some people might call it Americana, but we were probably 15 years ahead of this souped-up country music – which is really just rock and roll, whatever.” (1)
By the turn of the 21st century, even with the addition of new members, first Quin Wychanko and then Kip Amore on bass and Tom Pace on drums, the lack of label interested and, of course, life took its toll and another great NE Ohio band faded away.
Flash forward to earlier this year. Based on a post I made on the Listen Project Facebook page about the Action, Michael Purkhiser reached out to me and I was able to share with him my love for not only the Action but 3D as well. I had found Universal Conquest on-line (from an Australian seller, no less) and instantly fell in love with the songs, particularly a catchy tune called “There Goes My Heart Again” which, of course, has made its way into the regular rotation on Listen Project Radio as have some of the tracks Marky picked for his interview with me in April. This week, Michael reached out to me again and, long story short, I now have pretty much all of 3D’s studio output in the Listen Project archives. Many of these tracks along with the tracks from Universal Conquest, according to Michael, were going to be released as a full-length album, initially titled Radio Akron but then changed to Stere-O-View.
Now I know that you want to hear these great songs and there are a couple of ways to do so. First, of course, you can regularly tune into Listen Project Radio and hear 3D along with a lot of other cool Northeast Ohio bands. If you want to just cut to the chase, you need to go to Marky Ray’s YouTube channel on which he is continually posting some incredible videos of material from his long career and a lot of other cool stuff. You’ll find a lot of 3D songs set to some really, really creative art. Enjoy the songs of Michael Purkhiser, truly one of NE Ohio’s most talented songwriters.
This month’s podcast features an interview with author and archivist for the Akron Sound Museum, Calvin Rydbom. A professional archivist by day, Calvin’s 2018 book, The Akron Sound: The Heyday of the Midwest’s Punk Capital, is a superb account of the Akron/Kent music scene from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s when the Rubber City took center stage in the burgeoning punk and new wave moment with artists and bands enjoying recognition from Northeast Ohio to the United Kingdom. While a few bands and artists like Devo, The Waitresses, Rachel Sweet and the Rubber City Rebels signed with the major labels, other bands such as 15-60-75 AKA The Numbers Band, Tin Huey, the Bizarros, and the Action are fondly remembered and their members are still making great music today.
Calvin and I discuss just what exactly the Akron Sound is, some of his favorite bands and artists, and the origins of the Akron Sound Museum which is located in the Bomb Shelter on Bank Street in Akron.
“Animal Speaks” – 15-60-75 AKA The Numbers Band From the 1976 album Jimmy Bell’s Still In Town on Water Brothers Records
“Cuyahoga Creeping Bent” – Tin Huey From the 1977 EP Puppet Wipes on Clone Records
“Truck Stop Queen” – Rachel Sweet From the 1978 album The Akron Compilation on Stiff Records
“Lady Doubonette” – Bizarros From the 1977 split album with Rubber City Rebels From Akron on Clone Records
“Child Eaters” – Rubber City Rebels From the 1977 split album with Bizarros From Akron on Clone Records
“Jocko Homo” – Devo From the 1977 single on Booji Boy Records
“Laugh” – Hammer Damage From the 1979 single on Broken Records
“Waves of Disgust” – Chi-Pig From the 2004 album Miami on Chi-Pig Records
“Go Ahead and Kiss Her” – Unit 5 From the 1981 album Scared of the Dark on Clone Records
“Radio Music” – The Action From the 1979 single on RadioGram Records
“Russia Rocks” – The F-Models From the 1981 single on T.M.I. Products
“Pipeline” – The Walking Clampetts Unreleased track
“Swinging and the Supermarket” – Trudy & The Trendsetters Unreleased track
“Cincinnati Stomp” – Teacher’s Pet From the 2008 compilation Teacher’s Pet on Smog Veil Records
“Hideaway” – Color Me Gone From the 1984 album Color Me Gone on A&M Records
“Yankee Wheels” – Jane Aire & The Belvederes From the 1978 single on Stiff Records
“I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses From the 1982 album Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful on Polydor Records
“My City Was Gone” – Pretenders From the 1984 album Learning to Crawl on Sire Records
Every day at 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Listen Project Radio presents New Music Showcase. The New Music Showcase is an opportunity for you to hear new music from some of the best NE Ohio bands and artists who first appeared on the scene in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. In May and June, we feature new music from Unit 5’s Tracey Thomas and the Amazing Pink Holes Cheese Borger’s current band, The Cleveland Steamers; new music from Skydragster formerly the Medicine Show, the Jehova Waitresses, Slam Bamboo’s Scott Hanson, Kent’s Numbers Band and new music from Cleveland favorite Columbus bands, the Bounty and from the Molars featuring Jim Hutter from the Epicureans. We have the exclusive on the Wild Giraffes’ new release, Live and Later. Plus a brand new track from one of Cleveland’s legendary bands, the Outsiders and other surprises as well. Tune into LPR daily at 5:00 PM Eastern Time for the New Music Showcase.
Fifty years ago, in a small town in Northeast Ohio, America was forever changed on a spring day. In less than a minute, Kent, Ohio jumped from relative anonymity to a lasting symbol of a nation divided. “Four dead in Ohio” became a battle cry for the Boomer Generation and a stark reminder of the tragedy at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. While the history of that dark day still permeates the campus and the city, both the community and the university have come to accept their shared responsibility to never forget. We dedicate this program to the memories of William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller and Alison Krause, forever young but never forgotten.
Kent carries another legacy that stretches from before May 4, 1970 and through today, a legacy as a vibrant music town as a birthplace for bands as well as for having legendary live performance venues, both equally as important. In this podcast, we’ll cover three generations of Kent music – from the late 60’s/early 70’s rock of the James Gang all the way to the earliest work from the Black Keys in the early 2000’s with a variety of music in the years in-between, you’ll hear bands who were either Kent born and bred or bands from Akron who were part of the vibrant and eclectic Kent music scene. And of course, we’ll hear from the band that is the bedrock of Kent music, 15-0-75 AKA the Numbers Band who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Kent music, I recommend Jason Pruffer’s excellent book Small Town, Big Music: The Outsized Influence of Kent, Ohio, on the History of Rock and Roll. Published by Kent State University Press in 2019, the book is an excellent look at Kent’s place in the music world from the late 1960’s through today. Jason is also producing a documentary film about the Number Band titled Out of Obscurity, Into Oblivion. The film’s premiere has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but hopefully we will be able to view it soon.
“I Find I Think of You” – The Measles
From the 1967 album Beg, Borrow & Steal as the Ohio Express. Written by Joe Walsh
“Funk #48” – James Gang
From the 1969 album Yer Album
“Funk #49” – James Gang
From the 1970 album Rides Again
“Auto Motion” – Devo
1975 demo first released on Hardcore Devo: Volume One (1990)
“Whip It” – Devo
From the 1980 album Freedom of Choice
“Animal Speaks” – 15-60-75 The Numbers Band
From the 1976 album Jimmy Bell’s Still In Town
“High Heels Are Dangerous” – 15-60-75 The Numbers Band
From the 1987 album Among The Wandering
“Brass In Pocket” – The Pretenders
From the 1980 album Pretenders
“Middle Of The Road” – The Pretenders
From the 1984 album Learning To Crawl
“Puppet Wipes” – Tin Huey
From the 1977 EP Puppet Wipes
“Chinese Circus” – Tin Huey
From the 1978 Stiff Records album The Akron Compilation
“Astronettes (Love? You Must Be Kidding)” – The Waitresses
From the 1981 Clone Records compilation album Bowling Balls II
“I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses
From the 1982 album Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful
“Nobody Loves Me” – The F-Models
From their 1981 7″ single
“Noise Pollution” – Hammer Damage
From the 1981 Clone Records compilation album Bowling Balls II
“Alone’s Alright” – The Bomb
From a 1985 unreleased demo
“Play The Game” – In Fear of Roses
From the 1991 cassette release In Fear of Roses
“Another Day” – The Twist-Offs
From the 1987 EP Looking For Bugs
“Red Light” – Indian Rope Burn
From the 1993 album Sex Party
“Race Against Time” – Ray Carmen
From the 1990 EP Radio Friendly
“Retardo y Retardo” – Harriet the Spy
From the 1994 album God Gave Us Music and The Courage to Sing
“Never Ending Cycle” – The Party of Helicopters
From the 2003 album Please Believe It
“Seems Like Most Everything Used To Be Something” – The Six Parts Seven
From the 2001 album Things Shaped In Passing
“Set You Free” – The Black Keys
From the 2003 album Thickfreakness
“Ohio” – Dink
From their unreleased second album recorded in 1995
A little over two years ago, I impetuously acted on an idea out of nostalgia and The Listen Project was born. Let’s be honest, I had a concept and a very crude road map. First I created a Facebook page to publicize what I was doing and a private Facebook group to connect friends, artists and others involved in the NE Ohio scene. I needed the connections because I wanted to hear the stories from the primary sources. I also focused on collecting the music. I am forever indebted to my guru Jim Benson, former long time host of WBWC’s Local Artists Show and co-host of “Inner Sanctum” on the old WENZ The End for access to his vast collection of NE Ohio music. Allowing me to digitize rare and out of print LPs, demo cassettes and CD’s really created a stable foundation for the Listen Project. Eventually, artists and band members began to send me tracks to add to the growing archive (which currently stands at over 5000 songs). Thanks to Kevin Roy from Jehova Waitresses, Ernie Smith from In Fear of Roses and Tim Caskey from Serious Nature and the Adults, some of the first musicians who sent me some of their currently unavailable material early on.
Knowing that I did not merely want to archive music but re-present it to an audience, I had to find a means of delivery. I started by posting albums and singles on my personal YouTube page and creating this blog/website. Even though both were well-received, I felt this lacked enough context, so I jumped way outside my comfort zone and started a podcast not only to play the music but to talk about the bands and artists I was presenting. With no previous broadcasting experience, I flew by the seat of my pants and learned as I went along. It dawned on me that while people might enjoy hearing me talk about the music, they’d probably rather hear from the players themselves. And so, a chance comment left in the Listen Project Facebook Group led to my first phone interview with Mark Addison of the Generators, Hungry Young Men, Nation of One, the Wanton Seeds, the Borrows….one of the most talented songwriters of the late 70’s/early 80’s Cleveland music scene for the podcast. That led to an interview with Alan McGinty, drummer in the legendary Wild Giraffes and also co-owner (with original WG bassist Chris Burgess) of the Beat Farm Studios and Herb Jackson Records, an interview that included playing material from a brand new Wild Giraffes album of live and studio tracks (which was released yesterday). I also got Jim Benson to come out of retirement and co-host a podcast with me…and he’s going to do it again (whether or not he likes it).
The next stop happened very quickly and completely by accident. Dan Binder, former program director for WENZ 107.9 The End (a station that actively supported NE Ohio music during its time on the air, especially through the weekly “Inner Sanctum” show) rolled out an on-line version of the station this past February. I asked myself, “How’s THAT work?” Long story, short – I did the research and here we are. A “radio” station built for music made in NE Ohio.
There is probably no other Internet radio station out there where you can here the Wild Giraffes followed by the Waynes, Rocket From the Tombs followed by Odd Girl Out or Tin Huey followed by Dink. You’ll hear tracks from the Jim Clevo Presentations and Cleveland Music Group compilations, all long out of print. While focused on the “golden triangle” of Cleveland, Akron and Kent, we’ll stray into other Ohio cities, particularly those whose bands like the Bounty and the Epicureans became fixtures on the NE Ohio scene. Currently, Listen Project Radio runs 24/7, mostly on autopilot using a proprietary algorithm to chose songs from the over 1000 uploaded to station’s database. I am slowly creating theme-based “programs” like Beads & Flowers which covers acoustic and folk rock, The Akron Sound playing music from the Rubber City and by extension, Kent. CLEPunk focuses on Cleveland’s important legacy as one of the birthplaces of punk rock. I also plan on adding new music from those of you who were active during the Listen Projects time parameters (roughly 1975 to roughly 2000).
The hosting site for LPR is Live365.com. While the platform allows live broadcasting, no DJs for now. I may migrate the podcast here as soon as I am familiar with all of the nuances and limitations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) which I have to follow as part of the agreement to use Live365 as the host. However, performance rights payments are included in the monthly hosting fee which means all plays are reported to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC making this a legitimate (I guess) station.
We’re here. I’m committed to personally funding LPR for at least one year. The Listen Project is now officially a non-profit corporation and I am exploring the possibility of obtaining 501(c)(3) status as an educational entity to assist in fundraising. Wherever this goes, I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to listen to LPR. Hopefully, many of you will enjoy it and promote it to those who would be interested in hearing this music. Finally, I want to thank YOU. YOU made this music. YOU made the NE Ohio music scene vibrant and eclectic. YOU make the Listen Project a worthy endeavor.
Great music deserves to be heard! Now, go “listen!”
P.S. Special thanks to Gerard Dominick, bassist in In Fear of Roses, Indian Rope Burn, Paranoid Lovesick and currently the Juke Hounds for designing the new Listen Project Radio Logo. Gerard is also an incredibly talented graphic artist and you should use him for your stuff.
Some guys come up with a moniker that is an expression of ego rather than to describe the actual. In the case of Marky Ray, Rock ‘N Roll Mercenary the moniker fits like a glove on a hand. Marky IS NE Ohio music. With a start in the early 80’s, this kid from Hudson, Ohio has had an incredible, successful career as a musician, stage hand, production manager, circus kinker and today, as a teacher and archivist of NE Ohio music. Cool, extremely knowledgeable and simply one of the kindest, most humble musicians I’ve ever know, Marky and I finally met in person a couple years ago while he was running the flea market for Michele DeFrasia at the Phantasy Complex in Lakewood. We met a second time last fall at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives on the Metro campus of Cuyahoga Community College for a NEO Sound event in which he was a presenter along with Chris Butler from the Waitresses. By that time, I was knee deep into the Listen Project podcasts and I knew that I needed to have Marky on as a guest.
In this podcast, we cover Marky’s long and colorful career as a member of bands like Terrible Parade, Death On A Stick, Death of Samantha and 3D; his adventures on the road with Nine Inch Nails, the Butthole Surfers and the Jim Rose Circus; his endeavors as a teacher for the Tri-C Recording Arts and Technology (RAT) Program; and his work as an archivist and board member of NEO Sound at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives. We talked for close to two hours and I could’ve easily listened to Marky for two more, so this interview has been edited for time.